Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Copa América

Anyone foolish enough to run out of dish soap on the day Chile plays in the final of the Copa América deserves what they get. The shops are bananas.
            With extra banana.
            This is the first time in 99 years that Chile has made it to the finals, and the whole city has gone joyous fruit-salad levels of happy.

This afternoon I had to get to the fabulous Tostaduria Talca.  The metro was divinely mad- trains running slow, trains interrupted, trains jam packed past the gills, with horns and vuvuzelas spilling out the doors!
            The streets were even madder.  Flags, hooters, more vuvezulas, and every other male in a tricolor hat or Red National Team Jersey. But not one teeny tiny solitary taco (traffic jam) - anything like that would interfere with getting home in time for kickoff.  It was the politest set of crazy streets I've ever seen!
            The wooden shelves of the Tostaduria Talca  (a hole in the wall paradise, source of the best nuts, spices and dried fruit in the city and purveyor of dry-goods otherwise unobtainable in Chile) - were bare. They practically echoed. Not a single thing vaguely snack-like was left in the place. The staff were weary and pushing left-over customers out the doors -  I grabbed three packets of pecans (Pecans! Pecans in Chile!) that had been overlooked in a corner, and bolted.
            Coming home, the metro was even more ridiculous than before, but a taxi was out of the question  - the few yellow-topped cabs on the roads waved me off - they were heading out of the city and home as fast as the polite traffic would carry them.

So I went down into the metro and waited patiently for a train - and worried about my next stop, the supermarket  - where I'd been told that the queues were worse than Dieciocho (18th of September - Chile's national day) or Christmas.
            When a train at last squeezed sluggishly into the station, getting myself on board was a feat of mindless strength and courage, but deep in the crush of the train, there was room for a young man beat-boxing with a microphone. The sound was bouncing off the walls, gonging off our eardrums, but he wasn't busking - just riding so high on anticipation that not singing was entirely out of the question.
            The supermarket was worse than I could have anticipated. Checkout queues half-way to the warehouse at the back, and carts piled high with cuts of meat, crates of booze, and house-size packets of potato chips like the world was coming to an end and it was potato chips that would see us through the apocalypse and out the other side.  More potato chips than I could have believed possible.
            And I walked home through waving flags and car horns.
            And my whole block smells like BBQ and beer.
            Life is tremendous.

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